“The best centre-half I’ve ever seen” is what Danny Murphy said in the aftermath of the Van Dijk injury.
Liverpool will be without Virgil van Dijk for several months after it was confirmed the Dutch defender requires knee surgery on his recent injury but the club are reluctant to rule him out for the season.
The 29-year-old injured his anterior cruciate ligament following a reckless challenge by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in Saturday’s 2-2 Merseyside derby.
“Following surgery, Van Dijk will begin a rehabilitation programme with the club’s medical team to enable him to reach full fitness as soon as possible,” a club statement said.
Van Dijk released a statement where he vowed to come back stronger than ever.
“This afternoon I met with a leading consultant to start the process of planning the finer details of my rehabilitation following the incident yesterday. I’m now fully focused on my recovery and will do everything I can to be back as quickly as possible.
“Despite the obvious disappointment I’m a firm believer that within difficulty lies opportunity and with God’s help I’m going to make sure I return better, fitter and stronger than ever before. In football, as in life, I believe everything happens for a reason and it’s important to try and keep level headed whether going through the highs or the lows. With the support of my wife, kids, family and everyone at Liverpool, I’m ready for the challenge ahead.
“I’d like to thank everyone for the messages of support, it’s meant a huge amount to me and my family, and I’ll now be doing everything possible to support my team-mates in any way I can ahead of a big few weeks ahead as I take my own recovery day by day. I’ll be back.”
During Match of the Day 2, Micah Richards and Danny Murphy were asked to provide their views on Van Dijk’s injury and the former Liverpool midfielder raised eyebrows with his statement.
As for Micah Richards, he said: “To lose Van Dijk, he’s the best centre-half in the world. It’s tough to see because I’ve been through knee injuries and I know how tough it is to come back from them and to see it happen the way it did, it was unfortunate. He’s going to be a massive miss. They’ve got Gomez and he can step up to the plate but it’s never nice to see a player go through an injury like that.”
However, it was Danny Murphy’s statement that Van Dijk is the best centre-half he’s ever seen in football that got people talking.
“Yes, (Liverpool have cover) but they’re going to be worse off without him. They’re going to be more vulnerable without Van Dijk because he’s the best in the world. He’s the best centre-half I’ve ever seen, he’s that good. You’re going to be more vulnerable. I mean, Fabinho can drop in there if Gomez or Matip are struggling but after that, there’s not that much cover. They’ve got to get through to January really, because it looks lie he’s going to be out for the rest of the season.
“The best centre-half I’ve ever seen,” eh?
In Van Dijk’s favour, since joining Liverpool, he has been a colossus and an integral reason why the club reached back-to-back Champions League finals in 2018 and 2019, winning the latter.
The Dutchman was also named PFA Players’ Player of the Year and the Premier League Player of the Season in his first full season. His calming influence in Liverpool’s defence was a massive reason why they finally ended their 30-year league title drought by winning the 2019–20 Premier League.
He’s an outstanding player and is without a doubt the most impactful recent signing in Premier League history.
However, Murphy’s statement is incredibly lofty when you consider the names, achievements, and careers of; Maldini, Cannavaro, Ramos, Pique, Terry, Vidic, Kompany, Carvalho, Stam, Beckenbauer, Passarella, Chiellini, Moore, Kohler, Desailly, Koeman, Puyol, Hierro, Nesta, Stam.
It’s a subjective question, but Murphy’s answer will certainly divide opinion.
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Here are the thoughts of the #MOTD2 pundits on Virgil van Dijk.
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) October 18, 2020